Australians are being “morally shamed” into voting for an Indigenous vote in parliament, a conservative columnist claims.
Peta Credlin, the former chief of staff to Liberal Prime Minister Tony Abbott, said the proposed Voice would be a race-based body more about “power than recognition”, but that is not how it is being sold.
“It will be presented to voters in simplistic terms: as being for or against Aboriginal people,” Ms Credlin wrote in The Australian.
Peta Credlin claims Voice to Parliament advocates are trying to “morally shame” Australians into voting yes
The Voice is a proposed body of representatives from First Nations people across Australia who will advise the Federal Parliament on issues relating to Indigenous peoples.
Its creation will require an amendment to the Australian Constitution, which must be introduced by a successful referendum.
As an example of ‘oversimplification’, Ms Credlin pointed to the launch this week of what she called the ‘big business’ campaign for a ‘yes’ vote, which is backed by the Uluru Statement Group.
The ad features Indigenous playwright and actor Trevor Jamieson telling rapt children the hopeful story of how First People are being given the voice they have not had on matters that affect them.
“The ‘feel-good’ yarn for kids around a campfire is a sign of things to come,” Ms Credlin wrote of the minute-long commercial, which will be aimed primarily at online audiences.
She noted that for previous referendums the federal government had funded both yes and no campaigns, but Ms Credlin doubted that would be done this time by the Albanian government.
“Labour will rely on big business to flood us with the yes message and hope that without the millions responding to them, no one picks up on the no side’s arguments,” she said.
Ms Credlin accused those pushing for a vote of being deliberately vague about what the body will do.
Ms Credlin claims the Albanian government is relying on big business to fund the yes campaign, as in this image from the online ad launched last week, while she hopes the no arguments are drowned out.
‘The voice has to make a difference, or what’s the point of having it?’ she wrote.
“Yet that difference cannot be spelled out without almost certainly dooming it to defeat, hence the lack of detail.”
Ms Credlin believed Indigenous people already have a significant influence on the country’s affairs, pointing to the number of MPs who identify as Indigenous.
“Why establish a separate Indigenous vote for Parliament when it already includes 11 individual Indigenous votes that were elected in the usual way, without any affirmative action or race-based selection criteria?” she wrote.
“Why give one group of people, based on race, a special influence over the actions of our parliament and our government that is denied to everyone else?”
She claimed that the voice was really a power grab.
“There is ample reason to be cautious about enshrining a race-based body in our constitution that even Malcolm Turnbull once described as a third chamber of Parliament,” she wrote.
‘It’s easy to see where this could end up going – down the road of co-governance.’
Albanese has suggested that the depicted model will form the basis of the Voice’s design and be refined as the debate developed
Ms Credlin said the vote had not really been ‘thought through’ and the danger is that Australians would be morally shamed into voting a ‘racial’ vote ‘based on a sentiment’.
“A few decades ago, we would have marched in the streets for a race-based body in our constitution,” she wrote.
‘Now we are being told that we are anything but racist if we don’t support it.’
Will Australians vote for an Indigenous vote in Parliament?
An Australia Institute poll in July found strong support for adding the Voice to the constitution.
The survey found that 65 percent would vote yes, up from 58 percent when the same poll was run in June.
About 14 percent said they would vote no, while the other 21 percent were undecided.
The support was highest among the Green voters, but even 58 percent of the coalition members would vote yes.
Some 59 per cent of One Nation voters would vote Yes, despite its leader Pauline Hanson leading the charge against it. This was an increase from 35 percent in June.
For a referendum to succeed, a majority of the states must also vote yes, but the poll showed that was also easily covered.
All four of the biggest states had comfortable majorities with Victoria on 71 per cent, Queensland 66 per cent, WA 63 per cent and NSW 62 per cent.
Support was highest at 85 per cent for Australians aged 18-29, but those over 50 were still over 50 per cent yes.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has indicated the Voice referendum question is likely to be: ‘Do you support an amendment to the constitution establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander vote?’
Three lines will be added to the constitution to create the advisory body; one states that it can “make inquiries to Parliament” on matters relating to Indigenous Australians; and that the Danish Parliament can legislate how it works.
To succeed, a referendum must have both an overall majority of votes and a majority of voters in the majority of states.
Polls taken in July indicated that Australians strongly support the Vote for Parliament, with 65 per cent of respondents saying they would vote yes.